Last month, I wrote a post about an article I read from Ron Miller, a politician in southern Maryland, who wrote an article suggesting we take a shot at health courts in Maryland to help resolve malpractice cases. Mr. Miller fails to note that we already tried this in Maryland and it completely failed.
Anyway, bizarro Ron Miller strikes back in Southern Maryland Online:
I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across a response to my column on medical malpractice liability reform from another Ron Miller, Ronald V. Miller, Jr. to be exact. Ron is an attorney in Baltimore who represents individuals in personal injury cases. His response is predictable:
"I'm sure he is a nice guy. But politically, and particularly on this issue, he is the anti-me. And I don't think this article even offers the best arguments for those arguing for tort reform in Maryland medical malpractice cases."
Ron is particularly critical of my proposal for a hospital-administered arbitration system for medical malpractice cases, stating it would be "mad" to let hospitals decide if malpractice occurred and what the settlement will be.
Well, Ron, I'm sure you are a nice guy and I dig your name. You may even be, as you say, more famous than me. That's cool; the paparazzi can get on your nerves after a while. I'm not a lawyer so I don't have all your "book learnin'" as my grandfather used to say.
If you read the article beyond the suggestion that sent you into low earth orbit, however, you'd see that even if a patient goes through the entire process, they still have the right to take their case to court if they aren't satisfied. This proposed approach is more flexible than the standard dispute resolution process in most corporations these days where, once you accept their jurisdiction, you surrender your right to outside litigation.
You'd also see where I suggest an independent arbitration system could be established to further ensure impartiality. Finally, I mentioned this system has proved credible with patients who've used it.
You see, "bizarro Ron Miller" doesn't believe a lawsuit is the only way to satisfy the patient and discipline doctors legitimately guilty of malpractice vice simply not meeting unrealistic expectations. I don't want to threaten your livelihood, however. If the health court proposal I reference in the same article is implemented, I think you'd make a great health court judge.
Another critic pointed out that a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study discounted the conventional wisdom that malpractice liability is a major cost factor in health care. I don't know all the parameters of their study but my mother always told me to "use the common sense God gave you." Common sense tells me if a doctor orders a battery of tests that aren't necessary but might help deflect a potential lawsuit, those extra tests cost somebody some money. If doctors' malpractice insurance premiums are going up rather than down, common sense suggests the cost has to be absorbed somewhere in the system. These higher costs are directly attributable to the threat of malpractice liability and someone's paying for them somewhere.
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